Google’s Authorship Markup – A Tool To Battle Content Theft?

Google has announced a new tool, its Authorship Markup which uses the rel= attribute. This is designed to match content to authors on a website, although there is no indication at the moment if it will act as “proof” of ownership as obviously anybody could implement it on their website for all their content.

For it to work you need to have a page set for each author which his linked to from each article / post which an author writes. This page can then link to other author profile pages which in turn should link back to declare that you are the author of more than one set of articles.

All you need to do is add the following to your pages:

Written by <a rel="author" href="../authors/you!">Your Name</a>.

This will “tell” people and the search engines (maybe) who the author is. Maybe if that page is indexed first in the future it will act as a good indicated of the author and useful for when people scrape content automatically and include it.

I will set it up and direct to my about page as an experiment.

Proper Usage Of The Rel=”author” Attribute and the Rel=”me” Attribute

One thing to remember is that the idea is that you are telling a search engine which work you author and which you do not. For this to work in your favour you should ensure that any additional sites which you write for are link to and also link back from your profile page.

For example, on Webologist I am linking to Burgermeister.co.uk with a rel=”me” link. Now, I could link to any website author page I liked, maybe I could trick Google by linking to JRR Tolkien with the rel=”me” attribute. Surely that would make Google think that I am JRR Tolkien and boost all my work? Well, only if JRR Tolkien (or the page about him) linked back to my profile with a rel=”me” too, which is unlikely. Besides, that link is not an author link anyway, as it would have to have many rel=”author” links pointing to it to be valued.

So, my understanding is that:

If Author Bio Page 1 has 1000 rel=”author” links pointing to it from a very busy and popular website, and then a link out with rel=”me” to a less popular Author Bio Page 2 on another domain, there may be a little boost for the other domain, or at least the articles which that author has written.

If you can convince Google that you are a good writer, an authority in some areas, then maybe that authority can spread beyond your main domain onto others. Thus, the idea of “author rank”.

It’s like, if you always read Jeremy Clarkson’s column in the Sunday Times you may grow to like his opinion and style. That could prompt you to watch Top Gear to see what he has to say about cars and you may find that you like him even more. Then one day you may see a copy of The Sun, a newspaper you would never normally read, but see that Jeremy Clarkson also has a column there, so read his column in The Sun. You may then like that too.

You are suddenly reading The Sun because you trust Jeremy Clarkson as a writer, you trust him to write something informative and witty and there is a good chance you will agree with it if you have been nodding your head while reading The Times and watching Top Gear for many years.

This new rel=”author” and rel=”me” is a way to teach the search engines how to deliver an author to their readers.

My suspicion is that to start with it will not boost rankings of other websites in general, but it may certainly play an important role in the personalised search. It makes a lot of sense here. You may read Webologist every week and then search for burger recipes and find my burger recipes site, because Google knows you will like it, even though it does not rank very well in general (which is a real shame, as those burger recipes of mine are really rather good).

You can learn more about it here: Authorship: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1229920

  1 comment for “Google’s Authorship Markup – A Tool To Battle Content Theft?

  1. Webologist
    July 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Update on this: http://www.webologist.co.uk/google/google-adds-authors-to-search

    Authors are appearing in search results.

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